Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Electoral Update - Staging the Fat Lady

Roger Simon of Politico says this morning that the outlook for McCain is "bleak." Howard Wolfson is calling the McCain campaign a "casualty." Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics says McCain is in a "terrible spot." Peter Wehner labels the challenge ahead as a "daunting task." And Joe Klein compares McCain's campaign to "throwing crap against a wall."

So, forgive me if it takes incredible restraint to keep from saying, "It's over. John McCain is toast."

I know what you're thinking already!

Yes, yes.. it's important to remember that we have nearly a month left until Election Day. However, it's a steep climb and a far stretch for John McCain to win, and here's why.

As we've mentioned before several times, John Kerry's 2004 states represent 252 electoral votes. It's important to know that Barack Obama is performing very well in every one of those states. He's solidified his position in PA, MI, WI, NH and MN appears to be shaping up too. He's also performing very well in Iowa (7) and New Mexico (5), two states that Bush won in 2004.

252 (Kerry States) +  12 (IA/NM) = 264

That leaves Obama needing just six electoral votes to get to the magic 270. Just six.  That's it. And just where can Obama find six electoral votes? There are many possibilities.

Nevada (5) where Obama has led in the last three consecutive polls. For that reason, we're moving Nevada from tossup to leans Obama.

Colorado (9) where Obama leads by an average of five points over the last several polls. Rasmussen/Fox News, just today, has Obama leading by six points.

In Virginia (13), polls yesterday and today show Obama winning by large margins.

More than 600,000 new voters have been registered in North Carolina (15) in 2008. Maybe that's part of the reason why polls lately have not only shown Barack Obama leading but also Kay Hagan.  We're moving North Carolina from the tossup list to the leans Obama column.

Missouri (11) had been polling in John McCain's favor all year.  Late polls now show Barack Obama leading here; however, there are not enough recent polls for us to know where the race stands. Don't be surprised if the Show-Me state reveals more polling favoring Obama this week.

Florida (27) and Ohio (20) are once again big trophies.  As we said last week, John McCain absolutely must win both to have any chance of becoming the nation's next president. McCain who once was leading in both states is now behind. That is especially clear in Florida where Obama appears to be in control. Fox News/Rasmussen's poll from today shows Obama winning by 7, and Quinnipiac less than a week ago had Obama winning by 8. 

Ohio (20) is not as clear to us not only because recent polls have gone back and forth but also because we are not clear about new voter registration numbers. RCP's Ohio average favors Obama by 3.5 points. As we've promised, Ohio will remain in the tossup until a clear leader emerges.

These states have a combined 100 electoral votes, and Obama needs just six of them.  John McCain needs virtually every one from all seven states. While it is quite possible for McCain to win a few of these states, the probability of him winning every one (or even all but one) is quite remote. 

He will need a real game changer..an October surprise..if he's to have any shot at all. It's no exaggeration to say that tonight's debate is a do-or-die situation for McCain.

Possible? It certainly is. In the meantime, someone should be telling the fat lady to clear her throat. She's the next act to perform.

Here are some interesting facts about Ohio from the 2004 election.

- John Kerry lost Ohio by 181,601 votes (-2.1%).

- Hamilton County, Cincinnati, favored George Bush (222,616) over John Kerry (199,679). -5.41%

- One in five voters in 2004 voted in either Franklin or Cuyahoga counties. Kerry won both.

- Counties with the largest numbers of voters.
1. Cuyahoga 448,503 66.57% 221,60032.89%
2. Franklin 285,80154.35% 237,253 45.12%
3. Hamilton 199,679 47.09% 222,616 52.50%
4. Montgomery 142,997 50.60% 138,371 48.97%
5. Summit 156,587 56.67% 118,558 42.91%
6. Lucas 132,715 60.21% 87,160 39.54%
7. Stark 95,337 50.59% 92,215 48.93%
8. Butler 56,243 33.71% 109,872 65.86%
9. Lorain 78,970 56.11% 61,203 43.49%
10. Mahoning 83,194 62.60% 48,761 36.69%
11. Lake 59,049 48.47% 62,193 51.05%
12. Trumbull 66,673 61.65% 40,977 37.89%

We will be publishing two updates per week between now and Election Day, a mid-week update on Tuesday and a more thorough analysis every Friday.

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